Immigration Issues

The Immigrant Population in the United States in 2006 (2007)

One in every eight residents in the United States was foreign born in 2006. That is the largest immigrant share the country has had since 1920, when concern over the concentration of immigrants led to the adoption of laws to severely curtail their flow into the country. The 37.4 million foreign-born residents in 2006 is by far the greatest number in our history and it dwarfs the fewer than 14 million immigrants in 1920. Since 1970, following the reopening of mass immigration, the foreign-born population of the country has increased by 27.8 million persons 289 percent.

The traditional immigrant settlement states New York, California, Texas, Illinois, New Jersey and Florida continue be the destinations of the largest numbers of immigrants, including persons arriving illegally. Nevertheless, they are not the only states to see their population significantly affected by immigrant settlement.

Every state, as well as Washington, D.C., has seen its immigrant population grow since 2000. That holds true for Louisiana and North Dakota, which have seen an overall drop in population since 2000 — Louisiana because of the devastation of hurricane Katrina that displaced more than one million residents.” Two states and Washington, DC have seen arriving immigrants account for more than 100 percent of their population growth. Those are New York and Massachusetts.

An additional nine states have seen the arrival of immigrants account for more than half of their population increase since 2000. Those include only New Jersey and California among the traditional major immigrant settlement states. The others are Rhode Island, Michigan, Iowa, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas and Nebraska. The traditional immigrant-receiving states of Texas, Florida, and Illinois had lower shares of population increase attributable to the immigration flow.

It should be kept in mind when considering the impact of immigration’s share of population growth, that in addition to the direct impact resulting from newly arriving immigrants (minus departures), there is also an indirect effect on population growth that results from the children born to immigrants after their arrival. In general, the immigrant population has a higher birth rate than native-born residents.

Below we provide our estimates of the foreign-born population in 2006 for each state and for the District of Columbia. The top states are also identified by rank order using different measures of the impact on the locality’s population.

Read the full report in pdf format.

August 2007